With nearly half of the Australian population alone experiencing a mental disorder in their lifetime, the start of National Mental Health Month is the perfect time to assess where we are at with our mental wellbeing.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses experienced in Australia and occur at more than double the rate of depressive disorders.
An anxiety disorder is a common mental illness defined by feelings of uneasiness, worry and fear. While anxiety occurs for everyone sometimes, a person with an anxiety disorder feels an inappropriate amount of anxiety more often than is reasonable. They can include Generalised Anxiety Disorders, Social Anxiety, Specific Phobias, and Panic Disorder.
The incidence of anxiety disorders is showing no signs of letting up with a recent survey showing the COVID-19 outbreak has placed so much strain on bosses that four in five leaders now describe themselves as being at risk of burn out. Enquiries to The Banyans regarding mental health concerns have jumped from 28% prior to the initial Australian lockdown in March to 43%.
A recent Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey found about 60% of 3,300 business executives felt stressed and anxious at work and were experiencing significant levels of self-doubt.
Those surveyed indicated that increasing amounts of regulation and administration, as well as feelings of having too many disparate priorities, were placing them under even more pressure.
Registered Psychologist at The Banyans Health and Wellness, Lorilea Huon, says many executives are feeling immense pressure in the current climate to not only keep their businesses operating, but also feel overwhelming responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff.
“It has been such a tough year and so many executives have not felt able to even take a break, let alone properly look after their own physical and mental wellbeing,” Lorilea says.
“One of the most significant risks of burnout is an individual’s reduced capacity to make good decisions. Risks are more likely to be taken and that may not end well for the business, staff or the business leader themselves.”
Ironically, the shift to remote working has exacerbated anxiety levels with many executives finding they are unable to unplug from their screens and many choosing to add saved travel time onto their working hours, rather than seeing it as an additional chance to relax.
“It’s now in the workplace that people are more susceptible to anxiety and we expect the next wave to originate from here,” Lorilea says.
“It’s more important than ever for business leaders to take stock of their own mental wellbeing, to take preventive action regarding themselves and their employees, and to show leadership in securing some support before the problem becomes overwhelming.”
While burnout and stress are very closely linked, there are some significant differences between the two conditions. Burnout causes the sufferer to feel utterly incapable of taking part in everyday activities, even those that used to bring pleasure and feelings of satisfaction. Those experiencing burnout can feel incapable of caring about anything or anyone, making any effort, or finding any motivation.
Some of the warning signs of burnout include:
- losing motivation in many aspects of your life, including your work and friendships;
- feeling unable to focus or concentrate on tasks;
- feeling empty or lacking in emotion;
- losing your passion and drive;
- experiencing conflict in your relationships with co-workers, friends and family; and
- withdrawing emotionally from friends and family.
The Banyans Health and Wellness works with business leaders and executives who are experiencing chronic stress and burnout to regain the ability to function well both in the workplace and in their personal lives.
Crucial components of a chronic stress and burnout program are the ability to re-evaluate what is important in life and the setting of boundaries. Taking regular time out from technology, eating a healthy diet, nourishing your creative side, setting aside time to relax, getting enough sleep, and appropriate exercise all help as well.
According to Lorilea, anyone experiencing chronic stress and burnout can recover, particularly when supported with appropriate and tailored therapy, the lifestyle changes outlined above, and education about psychology-based stress management techniques.
“Our Chronic Stress and Burnout Program is all about helping individuals to find and build their resilience levels so that they can return to being productive and effective leaders in their workplaces,” she says.
Realising that many employees were also facing increasing mental health challenges due to COVID this year and understanding that most executives felt responsible for helping their staff, The Banyans introduced its Workforce Wellness Series earlier this year to address that need.
The series is a four-part, on-demand video training course to help executives to support their stressed teams and to thrive during times of increase anxiety.
Described as “awesome and so helpful” by some of those who have undertaken the course, The Banyans CEO, Ruth Limkin, said the program was designed to be a simple solution for businesses.
“It was very quickly apparent to us that workplaces were going to need some additional tools in this challenging year and we are so pleased to be able to support business leaders and their teams during this period and beyond,” Ruth says.
The Banyans Health and Wellness is a private treatment centre for those experiencing chronic stress and burnout.
For more information about our programs, call us on 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) or complete an online form for a confidential discussion about how you or someone you care about can benefit from The Banyans.